Responsible Recycling Task Force
In April 2018, SWAC and MSWMAC formed the Responsible Recycling Task Force (Task Force) to respond to changes in international recycling markets and develop a coordinated approach to improving recycling in the region. The Task Force consists of representatives from King County, the City of Seattle, cities in King County, solid waste haulers, and stakeholders.
For years, recycling programs have relied on international export markets to process our materials. When the "China Sword" international restrictions on exports of recyclable materials went into force in January 2018, the markets for mixed paper and plastics took a hit. The lack of markets for these materials, increased contamination and the introduction of difficult-to-recycle packaging materials has challenged the viability of our recycling programs.
The Task Force recommends immediate, mid-term, and long-term Action Items to address these challenges in the Responsible Recycling Task Force Recommendations Report Download PDF 450 K. The Action Items were developed by following the "responsible recycling framework" which calls for recycling systems to:
- Focus on the quality vs. quantity of recyclables.
- Use consistent messaging across the region.
- Prioritize domestic processing and markets.
- Consider the social and environmental effects of exporting recyclables.
- Create domestic demand for recyclables.
- Realize that responsible recycling is not free.
- Measure real recycling.
Reports and action item deliverables
- Extended producer responsibility studies
- December 2021
Improving Recycling in Washington through Producer Responsibility Policy: Costs and BenefitsDownload PDF 1 MB
Prepared for the Northwest Product Stewardship Council. This report outlines the economic, social and environmental impacts of a future EPR system compared to Washington’s current recycling system.
- March 2020
Extended Producer Responsibility Policy Framework and Implementation Model – Residential Recycling of Packaging and Paper Products in Washington State (Full Report) Download PDF 1.75 MB | Executive Summary Download PDF 400 K
This report fulfils the requirements of Action Item 1A to "Develop a comprehensive, statewide stewardship policy approach that helps achieve a funded, robust, and harmonized curbside recycling system throughout Washington State". It includes an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policy framework and conceptual model for how EPR could be implemented in Washington State.
- March 2020
Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and Paper Products: Policies, Practices, and Performance external link
By the Product Stewardship Institute. This report explains how the EPR programs operate in Canada, including a detailed description of the Recycle BC system in British Columbia.
- Container deposit studies
These reports complete the RRTF Action Item 1E: "Develop a feasible model for beverage container stewardship in Washington similar to the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative system."
- December 2020
Executive Summary: Phase I - III Download PDF 1.2 MB
- November 2020
Phase III: Costs and Benefits of Residential Packaging and Paper Product Recycling in Washington State Download PDF 3.9 MB
- September 2020
Phase II: Qualitative Research and Recommendations on Deposit Return Systems in Washington State Download PDF 1 MB
- June 2020
Phase I: Inventory of Existing Deposit Systems Download PDF 1.3 MB
- May 2020
Using Contract Language to Improve Recycling Download PDF 400 K
This report responds to Action Item 5A and explains how city and county governments can use their hauler contracts to maximize real recycling with minimal social and environmental impacts. It includes sample contract language for ensuring downstream due diligence.
- January 2019
Responsible Recycling Task Force Recommendations Report Download PDF 550 K
- October 2018
Responsible Recycling Task Force Problem Statement Download PDF 125 K
- June 2018
King County Paper Recycling Report Download PDF 450 K
- June 2018
National Recycling Coalition, Quarterly Markets Development Webinar – Focus on China's Import Restrictions Initiative Download PDF 2 MB
Meeting minutes and presentations
- Dec. 13, 2019 Responsible Recycling Symposium presentation Download PDF 4 MB
- Dec. 14, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 200 K
- Dec. 14, 2018 meeting presentation Download PDF 250 K
- Nov. 15, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 275 K
- Nov. 15, 2018 meeting presentation Download PDF 1 MB
- Oct. 26, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 250 K
- Oct. 26, 2018 meeting presentation Download PDF 3 MB
- Sept. 19, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 250 K
- Sept. 19, 2018 meeting presentation Download PDF 4.5 MB
- Aug. 24, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 275 K
- Aug. 24, 2018 meeting presentation Download PDF 3.3 MB
- July 18, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 250 K
- July 18, 2018 meeting presentation Download PDF 2 MB
- June 18, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 250 K
- June 18, 2018 meeting presentation Download PDF 1 MB
- June 1, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 250 K
- June 1, 2018 presentation Download PDF 1.2 MB
- April 30, 2018 meeting minutes Download PDF 200 K
- April 30, 2018 presentation Download PDF 2.5 MB
- Nov. 20, 2018: King County solid waste advisory committees adopt first recommendations to make regional recycling more successful
- Sept. 25, 2018: New campaign and webpage spread the message of how to ‘Recycle Right’
- June 8, 2018: Recycling task force focusing on near-term solutions to market changes in King County
- April 19, 2018: King County forms task force to seek solutions to China recycling import restrictions
Lauren Cole email Lauren Cole
King County Solid Waste Division
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